The Xcerts – ‘Hold On To Your Heart’ (Album Review)
With each passing year, humanity spends a little more time glued to its screens and a little less looking up. Although the Internet is home to much of the world’s recorded creativity, it’s also healthy to stand up, stretch your legs, and get some fresh air. With Hold On To Your Heart, The Xcerts are back with a new batch of songs guaranteed to leave listeners feeling fresh, inspired, and reinvigorated rather than tired, fried-eyed, and listless.
I know some people get more than mildly irritated by the term “vintage modern,” but those two words sum up The Xcerts very effectively. The Dark is an earnest piano-led ballad driven by loneliness, but also slowly shifts from stoicism to optimism as powerful synths and lush backing vocals enter the picture. It feels distantly retro and equally contemporary, the end result being a firm sense of timelessness.
Hold On To Your Heart was crafted with such an effect in mind, pulling in influences as iconic as Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Rick Springfield, and Cheap Trick while retaining the highly motivated spark that has powered The Xcerts from day one. Early single Daydream slams into a full-tilt blissfest, gritty palm-muted verse chords giving way to joyously open strumming and a killer chorus hook. Feels Like Falling In Love owes much of its power to perfectly timed drum hits and a gorgeous multi-layered arrangement – not to mention throbbing keyboards and a rapturous lead vocal. Timelessness is again a goal fully achieved.
Beyond this point, more highlights include the subtle vocal nuances that make First Kiss exceptional; the sheer beauty of the snare hits that keep title track Hold On To Your Heart anchored; Drive Me Wild’s none-more-‘80s sax-into-guitar solo; and the super-tight Show Me Beautiful. Final power ballad Cry climaxes with more passionate sax work, heartbreaking lyricism, and slowly unfolding chord progressions. Then this ten-song set, replete with masterful songcraft and finely honed tones, can be looked back on nostalgically.
Of course, you’ll go on to play it again – but it will probably feel appropriate to pause and let it all sink in first.
LTK Rating: 85% (Essential Listening!)
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Hold On to Your Heart drops January 19; pre-order it from iTunes here.